Ducks coach Chip Kelley downplays controversial quote from Duck player.
In Boise, The Idaho Statesman newspaper is calling it the biggest game in the history of Bronco Stadium.
In Eugene, Chip Kelly, the Oregon coach, is calling it, well, the first game on the Ducks’ schedule.
Thursday night, the spotlight beams brightly on Boise as the college-football season begins. Boise State and Oregon meet in the only game of opening night matching ranked teams.
For BSU, 14th-ranked by AP, it’s probably win or forget a BCS berth this year. Sixteenth-rated Oregon, meanwhile, could launch itself toward some really rarefied air in a month that includes the Broncos, Purdue, Utah and California.
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Kelly, though, isn’t buying into the hype — publicly, at least. He downplayed a quote in Sports Illustrated attributed to Ducks running back LeGarrette Blount — “We owe that team an ass-whuppin’ ” — and said, “We’re going to play a ranked opponent on the road. Last year’s game has no bearing.”
Kelly also brushed aside the notion that Boise State couldn’t stand up to the weekly rigors of the Pac-10, saying, “We approach them as exactly what they are — a top-15 team in the country.”
The Ducks have plenty of motivation. Their quarterback, Jeremiah Masoli, got knocked from Oregon’s 37-32 loss a year ago by what some Oregon players thought was a cheap shot. And they’re four-point underdogs, partly because Boise State is 19-0 at home under coach Chris Petersen.
Other news around the Pac-10 outside Washington:
Arizona: Coach Mike Stoops says both QB candidates, Matt Scott and Nick Foles, likely will play against Central Michigan, a team that allowed 287 yards a game passing in 2008, or 118th in the country. Tight end Rob Gronkowski has a lingering back problem, and says Stoops, “We’re going to make sure he’s symptom-free before we put him out there.”
Arizona State: Unless the Sun Devils get favorable word on freshman linebacker Vontaze Burfict from the NCAA Clearinghouse, he sits out of games. Meanwhile, coach Dennis Erickson says freshman QB Brock Osweiler will play some in the Idaho State opener because backup Samson Szakacsy continues to have arm problems.
California: Bears kick it off against Maryland, which handled them a year ago on the East Coast. Coach Jeff Tedford says junior QB Kevin Riley won the job when “he separated himself with his knowledge of the offense.”
Oregon State: Beavers coach Mike Riley says QB Lyle Moevao, rehabbing from shoulder surgery, isn’t ready yet, saying his “zip on the ball” is the only element missing. Freshman WR Markus Wheaton is also awaiting Clearinghouse approval. Riley is high on TE Joe Halahuni, sophomore from Orting High.
Stanford: Cardinal will start two redshirt freshmen on the offensive line against WSU, one Bellevue’s David DeCastro. Says coach Jim Harbaugh, on his team’s 58-0 victory a year ago over WSU: “We don’t have any rearview mirrors in this car.”
UCLA: Bruins apparently will play their home game against San Diego State despite fires in the Angeles National Forest. Meanwhile, says UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel of the Aztecs and new coach Brady Hoke (with veteran coordinators in Rocky Long and Al Borges), “I’m as in the dark as I’ve ever been with respect to intelligence about an opponent.”
USC: Trojans have had an injury-plagued camp, but coach Pete Carroll is comfortable with his tailbacks. Carroll praised 5-foot-11 junior Allen Bradford, saying, “He’s probably had the biggest breakout camp of anybody. He’s a 230-pound tailback who pounds it at you and is one of our fastest guys.”
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or firstname.lastname@example.org